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Am I At Fault for Injuries If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?

Getting compensation following a car accident can be difficult in Maryland. This state is one of just a few that practices a contributory negligence system. Under this system, you can’t recover damages if you’re even slightly at fault for the accident. This system is much harsher than the comparative negligence system that is practiced in many states. Car accident victims are usually worried that their compensation will be impacted by anything that they did wrong. One concern usually relates to not wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred. That’s because in Maryland, all drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts. For drivers, front seat passengers, and back seat passengers under the age of sixteen, the law is subject to primary enforcement. The police can pull you over for not wearing a seat belt even if you have not committed any other traffic violations. Because of this, you would probably think that failing to wear a seatbelt would bar you from getting compensation. However, that’s not the case. Not buckling up doesn’t mean you’ll be deemed at-fault for your injuries. In any case, if you've been injured in a car accident, it can be handy to have a car wreck attorney in Parkville by your side.

What the Law in Maryland Says About not Wearing a Seatbelt

If you were not at fault for the accident, you could still get compensation. The law specifically states that opting not to wear a seatbelt should not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence. It also should not limit the liability of the defendant or their insurer. As a consequence, it should not reduce the amount you’re able to claim. The law goes even further. It states that the seat belt should not even come up during the case unless it was somehow involved. That is, the design, manufacture, installation, supply or repair of the seatbelt contributed to your injury in some way. This should put your mind at ease. Of course, it’s not an excuse to get behind the wheel without a seat belt. Not buckling up is still a crime. Moreover, it’s still unsafe. If you don’t have an attorney and you attempt to settle on your own, the insurance company may still try to use the seatbelt defense. If you were thrown from the vehicle, they may argue that this wouldn’t have happened if you were restrained. If you’re not aware of the law, you may assume you can’t get compensation and back off. This is exactly what the insurer wants. That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney on your side. They know the law and they won’t let the defendant or their insurer take advantage of you.

Statistics on Seatbelt Usage

Since 1997, drivers in Maryland have been required to wear seatbelts. This is the most effective way of protecting yourself in the unfortunate event of a car accident. In 2018, 105 people who were not wearing seatbelts died in car crashes in Maryland. However, studies show that wearing a seatbelt can increase an individual’s chances of survival by 60 percent. Maryland has a high rate of seat belt usage. A study found that the rate was 90.4 percent in 2019. Interestingly, there is a connection between the use of seat belts by drivers and that of passengers. The Roadside Observation Seat Belt Survey revealed that when the driver buckled up, on 93 percent of occasions, passengers also did so. However, when the motorist didn’t wear a seat belt, just 40 percent of passengers buckled up. Meanwhile, safety belt usage tends to be lower among teenaged drivers across the country. That’s why the state has launched a campaign aimed at drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 who pass the road skills test. The “Seat Belts Look Good on You,” initiative rewards them with a seat belt scarf or necktie. It is all aimed at reducing the number of injuries and deaths on the state’s roads.

Contact the Parkville Car Accident Lawyers at Pinder Plotkin LLC

If you suffered injuries in a Maryland car crash, reach out to an attorney immediately. As you now know, not wearing a seatbelt won’t preclude you from getting compensation. However, it may still be difficult to get the compensation you deserve. Even if you think you could otherwise be at fault, you should schedule a case review. Your first consultation is free, and you don’t have to pay until we secure compensation on your behalf. You have nothing to lose so call us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Parkville, Maryland car accident law firm.